Buttigieg's "Targeted Code Enforcement" Disaster
In 2013, Pete Buttigieg, the 32nd Mayor of South Bend launched a new initiative. To use "data" to target certain properties so he could raise the property value of surrounding properties and reduce crime. The problem with his program is the City never acquired the properties, instead they took them through excessive enforcement and orders given out by a City run court process. The problem with the plan? It disproportionately targeted historically poor black communities with demolition first priorities while giving white upper income neighborhoods resources to fix homes and time to fix them.
In October 2018, thanks to the work of activists of this group and others working with Councilmembers focused on outing racism, the Code Enforcement Department was exposed for racial targeting.
Buttigieg responded with the termination of the current Director and appointed a new Director (who was actually the sitting assistant director). The administration promised they would move to a "service oriented approach," in reality that was a lie and they have moved to complete the original list of targeted properties outlined in 2013.
Then in January Director Skibbins released the 2018 annual report for Code Enforcement Activities which suggests its just business as usual:
“ We also address blight and other issues that left untouched would surely cast a dark cloud over our great city.”
"Total violations cited in 2018 was 2% less than in 2017. We would like to see this number continue to decrease as people continue to realize we are holding them accountable."
"At year end, we had 151 remaining V&A properties. Of those, 83 properties are affirmed for demolition" - Tracy Skibbins, Director of Code Enforcement, City of South Bend, Indiana; 2018 Annual Report.
The Buttigieg administration continues to attack Minority communities in a failed attempt at Gentrification. They have denied this is Gentrification because there are no developers in the wings. However in April of this year the City employed a Berkeley, California based design firm known for work in "New Urbanism" to create a plan for the properties they tore down in one of the historically black areas of the City.
The map below shows the disproportionate nature of the constant demolitions in black neighborhoods. This is just one area of 4 that were targeted by Buttigieg's plan.
The bottom line is this botched attempt to "clean up South Bend" has been nothing more than one of the greatest affronts to the fundamental right of all people to own property. The City continues to disregard Constitutional protections of property owners so Buttigieg can use this platform as a positive narrative in the national media.
This needs to stop and it needs to stop immediately.
Again, thanks to the work of activists and certain Councilmembers, in 2017 Prosperity Now did a landmark study of South Bend entitled "Racial Wealth Divide in South Bend."
Despite the following alarming statistics, and many more, that are the outcome of over 100 years of political control of a ruling class where Blacks, Latinos, Asians, still live with suppressed voices in a controlling system where speaking out means becoming a target. That's why we chose South Bend to be our first City. To provide a new platform and voice and to unite in the spirit of 1963 in a City that simply shifted to be in the shadows of Notre Dame while preserving the disparities of an era most of the United States believes is behind us. Unlike politicians, statistics don't lie, they may be manipulated by those in power, but they are also a great sword for the people counted.
It is time that we realize "the Dream" for the people of the City of South Bend. That we shine light on the darkness to where hate cannot thrive. Its time for a people who have been kept down to preserve the livelihoods of the few to can find new opportunity, new hope, and finally be heard. We are BlackTavists, and our Dream is to change this forever: